A new law went into effect in July, 2010 permitting vehicles to be transferred after the owner’s death without the necessity of probate. This new law permits the owner of the vehicle to name a beneficiary to receive the vehicle upon the owner’s passing in much the same way that a person would name a beneficiary to their life insurance policy or 401K, or leave real estate via a beneficiary deed. By doing so, the beneficiary avoids the need for opening up a probate, especially in the instance where the car of motor home are the only significant assets owned. This helps reduce the need for probate attorneys in relatively simple estate and avoid the legal fees associated with same.
To download the form from ADOT’s Motor Vehicle Division, go to azdot.gov and search under “Forms and Publications” listed in the right hand column. Then search under “B” for beneficiary. The form is listed as Form 96-0561.
Keep in mind that the owner will have to make sure his/her adult children or heirs know where the completed Beneficiary Designation form and current car title are so they can find them upon the owner’s passing. Then, all the beneficiary will need to do is present them to the Motor Vehicle Division to get the title changed into the beneficiary’s name.
Finally, remember that this is only a beneficiary designation and is not permanent or effective until the owner’s death. If the owner changes their mind about whom they wish to leave their vehicle to, they simply destroy the old form and prepare a new one. The named beneficiaries do not have any ownership rights to the vehicle until the owner’s passing, and there is no impact on the owner’s automobile insurance rates as a result of the named beneficiary.
If you need further assistance with this issue or other estate planning needs, contact an experienced estate planning attorney.